You can put Kate in couture, or you can put Kate in nothing at all, and either way, she will look incredible. Case in point, the new St Tropez campaign, where Sam did the hair, Val Garland the make-up and Nichola Joss the tanned skin. “My brief was to have Kate very natural with her signature rock chick layers. With one swift flick of the comb and a dab of hair cream, I gave her hair a Newton-esque glamourous look to show off her tan poolside”.
Sam McKnight is one of the most accomplished and well-respected hair stylists of his generation. His name is synonymous with modern, sexy hair - whether it's in magazines, on the runway or the red carpet.
He's won countless awards but perhaps the biggest accolade is the longstanding creative collaborations he has maintained with some of the best names in the business - Patrick Demarchelier, Nick Knight and Mario Testino; Karl Lagerfeld/Chanel, Vivenne Westwood, Balmain and Fendi to name just a few.
In the fleeting world of fashin imagery Sam's permanence is fixed in some of the most iconic images in modern history - Princess Diana's short, slicked back style, Agyness Deyn's bleached blonde crop, Madonna's Bedtime Stories cover, Cate Blanchett getting her Oscar, Tilda Swinton channelling Bowie, both Lady Gaga and her male alter-ego Jo Calderone plus countless covers and editorial stories of Kate Moss and all the supermodels.
The longevity of Sam's carrer career - over 30 years - provides a fantastic back-catalogue of references to bring to his work and it is this and his search for the new that keeps him so in demand.
After years of shoots and shows, it’s not often that a hairstylist is forced to work without his tools, but that was the case for Sam on his most recent cover shoot – for Vogue, no less. Shot by Patrick Demarchelier in St. Barts, with Vogue’s Fashion Director Lucinda Chambers and model Kate Moss, the whole crew arrived at the airport with no luggage – it hadn’t made the transit in Paris. Sam and make-up artist Val Garland had to use what they had: Val, the make-up in her handbag and Sam, the water from the sea. Speaking of the shoot Sam explains: “The airline had lost everything and it wasn’t going to arrive until the day we were leaving, so we had to make do. I simply put some sea water in a spray bottle, spritzed some into Kate’s hair, let it air dry, backcombed the roots and then ran my fingers through it. Kate being Kate, just rose to the occasion and let her natural hair texture do the talking”. Who ever said that fashion shoots need to be high-maintenance? Sometimes just a bit of DIY does the trick – and to gorgeous results.
View the whole shoot here
Read Sam’s Interview with Vogue.co.uk about the shoot here
This weekend saw the second annual instalment of the Vogue Festival at the new and improved venue of the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall next to London’s Royal Festival Hall. Two days packed full of guest speakers such as Victoria Beckham, Donatella Versace, Alber Elbaz, Michael Kors, Natalie Massenet, Mario Testino, Sam was asked to be part of a panel of speakers interviewed by Vogue’s editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman, for one of the most popular talks, “Behind the Scenes of a Vogue Cover Shoot”. Also taking part in the panel was Vogue’s Fashion Director, Lucinda Chambers, make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury and model of the moment, Cara Delevingne, all of whom worked together on the now iconic Cara cover for this year’s March issue, and all of whom were shot by photographer David Bailey backstage for the magazine’s archive. Speaking of the day, Sam said, “it was a little daunting to be on stage speaking at the QE Hall, but Alexandra made us all feel comfortable and Lucinda’s stories had us in hysterics. Cara was sweet and chatty and Charlotte and I rambled on like only hair and makeup can. When it was all over, we said: ‘Oh was that it? When can we do it again?’. Same time again next year?
Read all about the Vogue Fesitval and see video footage of the talk, here
Watch the talk in full here
It’s a bumper issue of British Vogue this month, with a triple whammy of Sam’s styling involving, a cover shoot, plus two main fashion editorials. ‘Chasing Cara’, shot by Mario Testino and styled by Vogue‘s Fashion Director Lucinda Chambers, sees cover girl Cara Delevingne sporting a mod-Sixties side-parted style, whilst the hair in ‘Orient Excess’, another Lucinda, Mario and Sam collaboration is centered around short shiny black bobs on models Sui He, Sung Hee Kim, Ji Hye Park and Fei Fei Sun. For the ‘Cut To The Chase’ shoot, shot by Craig McDean with fashion styled by Jane How, Sam created more of a slick, well-oiled, cool look on model Iselin Steiro. Not that we are counting, but that is 34 pages back to back…To see the whole ‘Chasing Cara’ shoot, click hereFor the ‘Orient Excess’ story, click hereSee more of the ‘Cut To The Chase’ look here
There has been much anticipation in the run up to the release of the first edition of ‘CR Fashion Book’, the new magazine by editor Carine Roitfeld. And now it is finally here. From the pre-Raphaelite waved hair on Lara Stone in ‘A Woman’s Life’, to hairstyles on make-believe corpses in ‘Lucho and Juliet’, to gothic peroxide blonde hair on a night shoot in ‘Strike’, Sam worked on three of the amazing editorials in the new edition and tells of his experience:“It’s always going to be an interesting shoot when Carine is styling, even more so when it’s for the first issue of her own magazine. She has a presence and energy like no other, and is always encouraging the team to break boundaries. Take, for example, her cinematic collaboration with Tom Ford, ‘Lucho and Juliet’ where the model is dead, or even the ‘Strike’ story shot by esteemed film director Luca Guadagnino, which tells a story in still pictures. The tongue in cheek ‘A Woman’s Life’, by Sebastian Faena is another fashion spread turned into a high drama story. One thing is for sure… It’s never boring.”For more information on CR Fashion Book, click here.
Couture shoots are always something of a fantasy, to represent the elaborate and decadent pieces of art that are being shot. This ‘Sweet Escape’ story shot by Nick Knight for W Magazine, featuring model Karlie Kloss, is something of an ethereal wonderland of images, with make-up by the incredible Val Garland and all wigs customised by Sam.All the wigs, as you can see in the images, were larger than life, vibrant, custom-coloured and cut on the day on set, using 3-4 different colours on each wig for a real other-worldly effect. The shoot itself was a long day. Shot in Paris, it involved changing the set, make-up and hair each and every shot, such was Nick’s vision. Karlie, ever the professional, really absorbed the role of couture ballerina, getting in a few precariously balanced positions and going that extra mile to make sure the shot looked right.The flower and tulle head-dresses were made by Sam on the shoot. Speaking of the day, he said, “I was making it all up a bit as I went along, photographer Nick and stylist Edward Enninful really let Val and I run riot on hair and make-up. It was so much fun”.See more images from the shoot on W Magazine’s website here.Check out Nick Knight’s Tumblr page for more insight into the day here.Click here to see all the beautiful images from this shoot in Sam’s Portfolio.